Lightning send Vasilevskiy to Syracuse, recall Gudlevskis
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy understands his role as a backup, but knows one thing for sure.
"I need more games," Vasilevskiy said Wednesday.
On Thursday, Vasilevskiy, 21, got his wish, getting reassigned to AHL Syracuse so that he can play in a game Saturday for the Crunch. Kristers Gudlevskis has been recalled and will be available to back up starter Ben Bishop tonight against the Senators.
Vasilevskiy has played in just seven games (2-4, 2.76 goals against average) since his early November return from vascular surgery. He was pulled early in the second period of Sunday's 3-1 loss to the Kings after allowing two goals on 10 shots. It was his first start since Nov. 27.
It's a delicate balance of developing Vasilevskiy, presumably the Lightning's No. 1 goalie of the future. Coach Jon Cooper said when Vasilevskiy got back he'd be in a "1 and 1A tandem" with starter Ben Bishop.
But with the schedule, the fact Bishop is playing the best hockey of his career, and that the Lightning (13-12-3) is so desperate for points, it's made for less opportunities for Vasilevskiy. The Lightning plays Saturday before starting a three-game trip Monday in Columbus, so theoretically Vasilevskiy could return to play in one of those back-to-back games in Columbus or Toronto.
"Andrei Vasilevskiy is a goaltender on our team and he's staying that way, and he's got a big future in this league," Cooper said. "But Ben Bishop is our starter right now and if there's little pockets where Vasy can get games I'm sure that's going to be the plan for him. Other than that he's got to do what Ben Bishop had to do when he was coming up. All these starting goaltenders, not too many of them jumped right in and grabbed the net and stayed in the net. This is part of the learning process, but in saying that, you got to get the guys games, whether it's in the NHL or American League, when you can fit games in for goaltenders you got to find a way."
Vasilevskiy was still ticked about Sunday's game, not that he got pulled necessarily, but the goals he gave up, both on the short side. The second one, by Brayden McNabb, came off the faceoff. Vasilevskiy said he lost the puck for a second, and then got beat from the shot from the top of the left circle.
"I think usually when I play, I feel better," Vasilevskiy said. "I feel myself sharp. I feel the puck, I control the puck better. If I don't, for me, it's something very hard."